Roxanne Shante

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Roxanne Shante
Shante, 2016.
Shante, 2016.
Background information
Birth nameLolita Shante Gooden
Born (1970-03-08) March 8, 1970 (age 52)[1]
Queens, New York, U.S.
GenresHip hop
Years active1984–1996
WebsiteRoxanne Shante on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata

Lolita Shante Gooden (born March 8, 1970),[1] better known by her stage name Roxanne Shante, is an American rapper. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City,[2][3] Shante first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and was part of the Juice Crew. The 2017 film, Roxanne Roxanne, is a dramatization of Shante's life.

Early life and career[edit]

Shante was born March 8, 1970 and in 1984, the young rapper ran into Bruce Bailey and Billy Beaver, DJ Mr. Magic, and record agent Marley Marl outside the Queensbridge housing project. The four of them were discussing U.T.F.O. since the rap trio had failed to make an appearance at a concert.[3] U.T.F.O. had recently released a single called "Hanging Out," which did not gain much critical acclaim; however, the B-side "Roxanne, Roxanne", about a woman who would not respond to their advances, became a hit.[4] Shante, who was a member of the Juice Crew, was contracted to write a track in rebuttal to U.T.F.O.'s rap, posing as the Roxanne in the U.T.F.O. song. Marley Marl produced the song "Roxanne's Revenge" using the original beats from an instrumental version of "Roxanne, Roxanne". The track became an instant hit and made Shante, only 14 years old at the time, one of the first female MCs to become very popular. Following this, the "Roxanne Wars" started, and Shante continued to rap and started touring with her producer, the Real Roxanne.

In 1985, Shante released a record together with rapper Sparky D, who had dissed her before in her track "Sparky's Turn, Roxanne You're Through" for disrespecting U.T.F.O. and being too young to be in rap battles.[5] The record called "Round One, Roxanne Shanté vs Sparky Dee" was released by Spin Records and included six tracks: the two original battle tracks ("Roxanne's Revenge" and "Sparky's Turn") as well as "Roxanne's Profile" by Shante, "Sparky's Profile" by Sparky D and a battle track, in which the two rappers freestyle and dis each other, in a censored and an uncensored version.[6] Other hits included "Have a Nice Day" and "Go on Girl".[7] In 1985, Shante battled Busy Bee Starski for the crown of "best freestyle rapper" but lost due to improper judging. Judge Kurtis Blow later admitted to Shante that he did not vote for her because she was a girl.[8] The ongoing battle with KRS-One hit its height when KRS-One claimed in his 1986 track "The Bridge Is Over" that Shante was nothing more than a sexual appendage to male rappers.[9] Shante released Bad Sister in 1989, The Bitch Is Back in 1992, and a greatest hits anthology in 1995.


By the age of 25, Shante was largely retired from the recording industry. She continued to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She did the latter by making a cameo appearance on VH1's hip hop reality show Ms. Rap Supreme and gave rap-battle strategies to the finalists of that show. She also took part in a series of Sprite commercials during the late 1990s. She returned to performing, and in 2008, her song "Roxanne's Revenge" was ranked number 42 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop;[10] she re-recorded the song the following year. In an interview with EmEz in 2015, she stated that she had just been proposed to and that she had been married before.[11] In the same interview, she said that KRS-One was one of her favorite rappers.

Biographical claims[edit]

It was reported by Blender in 2008,[12] and more extensively in a New York Daily News account in 2009,[13] that Shante earned a bachelor's degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a master's and Ph.D in psychology from Cornell University, and that a quirk in her recording contract obligated Warner Music to fund her college education. These were not new claims by Shante; she spoke on the subject at length on the Beef II documentary, which was released in 2004.[14] However, an investigation by lawyer and journalist Ben Sheffner for Slate magazine found no evidence of Shante's claims. She was never signed to a Warner Music label, but was under contract to the independent label Cold Chillin' Records, which was in turn distributed by Reprise/Warner Bros. Records from 1987 to 1992. Academic records indicate that she attended only three months at Marymount Manhattan College. Shante never earned any degree and she is unlicensed by New York State officials to practice psychology or similar disciplines.[15] The Daily News subsequently ran a five-paragraph correction.[13][16] Shante apologized in November 2009.[17]

Roxanne Roxanne film[edit]

A dramatized biopic about Shante's life, Roxanne Roxanne, was first shown at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It received critical acclaim and the lead actress Chanté Adams won best breakout performance for her portrayal of Shante. The film was co-produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, and written and directed by Michael Larnell.[18][19][20] It was bought by the film studio Neon for general release later in 2017.[21]


Roxanne Shante has been referred to as the "Queen of Rap" by The New York Times[22] and The Times.[23][24] The latter credited her for popularizing diss tracks. Billboard editor Natalie Weiner wrote that Shante's "blazingly male-shaming diss track" and "hip-hop's first recorded beef" helped moving hip-hop further toward the mainstream, calling her "rap's first female star."[25] Consequence considered her "a mentor for generations of female MCs, and an early advocate in rap for female empowerment."[26] In 1989, The Christian Science Monitor stated that the popularity of rappers like Roxanne Shante, Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lyte created a path for the next generation of female hip hop artists.[27]


Studio albums[edit]


  1. ^ a b @ImroxanneShante (March 8, 2018). "Today a little Girl was born and her..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Hess, Mickey. Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide. p. 55.
  3. ^ a b "About Roxanne Shanté". Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.
  4. ^ "Full Force Recalls Making UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne," Revisiting Song For New "Full Force: With Love from Our Friends" Album". August 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "About Sparky D". Archived from the original on November 5, 2016.
  6. ^ "Round One: Roxanne Shante vs Sparky Dee – OldSchoolHipHop.Com". January 7, 2010.
  7. ^ "Roxanne Shante Biography – OldSchoolHipHop.Com".
  8. ^ Thomas, Dexter (September 2, 2017). "How the best rapper of 1985 was sabotaged because she was a girl". Retrieved January 7, 2021. Years later, Roxanne approached Blow and asked him why he sabotaged her. According to Roxanne, he said it was because she was a girl.
  9. ^ "Are Female Rappers Authentic" by Athena Elafros in Hip Hop Icons, p. 208
  10. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". September 29, 2008. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  11. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: The Sitdown with EmEz (August 23, 2015). "The Sunday Sit Down With EmEz: Roxanne Shante". YouTube.
  12. ^ Reilly, Dan (December 8, 2008). "Life After Rock: Roxanne Shanté". Archived from the original on August 27, 2009.
  13. ^ a b Dawkins, Walter (September 2, 2009). "Rapper behind 'Roxanne's Revenge' gets Warner Music to pay for Ph.D". Daily News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  14. ^ Sheffner, Ben (September 5, 2009). "Copyrights & Campaigns: Roxanne Shanté speaking about her 'Ph.D.'".
  15. ^ Sheffner, Ben (September 2, 2009). "Roxanne's Nonexistent Revenge: Heard about the rapper who forced her label to pay for her Cornell Ph.D.? It never happened". Slate.
  16. ^ Daily News, "Correction", September 4, 2009, p. 33
  17. ^ "ROXANNE SHANTE REVEALS BREAST CANCER BATTLE". The Boombox. November 2, 2009. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  18. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (January 20, 2017). "Sundance 2017: 'Roxanne Roxanne' Salutes Hard Life of Rap Pioneer".
  19. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 27, 2017). "Sundance Film Review: 'Roxanne Roxanne'".
  20. ^ "Roxanne Roxanne (2017)". March 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Winfrey, Graham (January 29, 2017). "Neon Acquires Hip-Hop Drama 'Roxanne Roxanne' — Sundance 2017".
  22. ^ "Home Entertainment Recordings/Recent Releases". The New York Times. 1989.
  23. ^ "100 hip-hop tracks to love: from the ones you know — Run-DMC, Stormzy, Lauryn Hill, Salt-N-Pepa, Snoop — to the ones you should". The Times. 2018.
  24. ^ "Roxanne Roxanne: 5 Roxanne Shanté Songs That Celebrate The Early Queen of Rap". BET. 2018.
  25. ^ "The Story of Roxanne Shanté: How a Teenager From Queens Became Rap's First Female Star". Billboard. 2018.
  26. ^ "The 25 Greatest Hip-Hop Debut Albums of All Time". Consequence.
  27. ^ Duncan, Amy. "Latifah - The Queen of Rap". The Christian Science Monitor.